U.S. Army 1st Special Force Command Sgt. Kenneth McAnally surveys a section of a road that collapsed and continues to erode days after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on 7 October 2017 in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Sean Breslin
17 October 2017

(weather.com) – President Donald Trump addressed Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria during a Monday press conference, saying the military is being asked to perform tasks that other groups should be able to do instead.

"They have to distribute the food to the people of the island," Trump told reporters. "So, what we've done is, we now actually have military distributing food – something that really they shouldn't have to be doing."

According to CNBC.com, Trump also described the recovery as "very tough," adding that the island "was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit." Trump was referring to the $70 billion of debt the U.S. commonwealth had before the storm.

As of Tuesday morning, less than 20 percent of the island had power almost a month after the storm made landfall, according to a website that tracks the progress of the recovery. Nearly 35 percent of the island remains without drinking water, and there have been reports in recent days that U.S. citizens are so desperate that they've been drinking polluted water just to stay alive.

Puerto Rican leaders on both sides of the political aisle have said they're less than pleased with the response from the U.S. mainland.

"This is not the time to be talking about withdrawing the help," Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress and a lifelong Republican, told Politico. "This is not the time to talk about how much it’s costing the U.S., because we are American citizens."

In some parts of the island – including areas where Trump visited earlier this month – additional rainfall hasn't just hindered the cleanup, it has reversed progress. According to CNN.com, mudslides and flooding occurred Monday in the town of Guaynabo, located just a few miles from San Juan.

In that town, some residents, like Efrain Diaz, told CNN.com they haven't seen a single FEMA staffer or any emergency supplies since Maria ravaged the island. [more]

Trump Says Military Distributing Supplies in Puerto Rico Is 'Something ... They Shouldn't Have to Be Doing'

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